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Department of Psychology

Explore the teaching and research activities taking place within our Psychology department

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Our Department of Psychology has been guiding students in the field since 1969. The department offers degrees covering a wide range of psychological topics, making graduates especially attractive to future employers – 95% of our students are in employment or further study 15 months after graduation (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey conducted in 2019).

In a 2017 survey by the Economist, we were ranked 6th out of 104 British universities for boosting our students chances at getting higher salaries.

We hold an Athena SWAN bronze award for our commitment to gender and social equality in the workplace, and a National Union of Students Green Impact Gold Award for our voluntary green practices.


We pay particular attention to supporting our students outside of lectures so they get the best out of our degrees.

For example, during level 4 and 5 of the courses students meet in small groups, during the first and second year of our courses, students meet in small groups and individually with their personal tutor on a regular basis – and in their final year students get one-on-one supervision while they work on their chosen psychological research project.

We pride ourselves on offering excellent student support which creates a pleasant and helpful environment.

You can see all the undergraduate and postgraduate degrees we offer at the Psychology subject area page.

Dr Lucy Akehurst – Department of Psychology

Dr Lucy Akehurst, Head of Department of Psychology, talks about the exciting facilities available to current and future students.

Dr Lucy Akehurst: When our first year undergraduate students arrive at the Department of Psychology, I think they feel part of the community straight away.

We pride ourselves on our tutorial system at the University of Portsmouth. Staff are working with students from the word go.

We have a number of laboratory facilities and each of them house specialist equipment. We've got a baby and infant lab. We have a suite of labs, there's observation facilities, one way mirrors and recording equipment. We also have a Psychophysiology lab which has an EEG machine and eye tracking. We also have a motion capture laboratory. We have special cameras that pick up the sensors that the students have placed on their participants just to see how the human body moves when we perform particular actions.

The nice thing about coming to Portsmouth is that undergraduate students from the word go have access to those facilities. 


Psychologists play an important role in understanding the world, and our research aims to improve the lives of people around the world.

Our recent projects include innovative work on predicting high-risk offenders, and studies exploring how to protect victims and support witnesses. Other projects include 'increasing mammal release success rates and reducing the impact of tourism on wildlife' and 'developing tools to enhance employment prospects of adults on the autism spectrum'. Our research portal, Pure, has a full list of staff and researchers working within the department.

In our submission to the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF 2021), 70% of our overall research quality was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour (REF 2021). 100% of our research impact case studies were rated as outstanding or very considerable in terms of their reach and significance. This included research enhancing lie detection in security, military and forensic settings, research enhancing employers’ provision of person-centred support for autistic people and research contributing to the discovery and protection of a new orangutan species.

We've received funding from many prestigious organisations, including the Economic & Social Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, Federal Bureau of Investigation, British Academy and the British Psychological Society.

Our research entities

Take a closer look at the work we're doing across our research entities in Psychology.

Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology

In the Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology, we're exploring evolutionary processes and comparing humans with other animals, to study the origins of behaviour.

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Centre for interaction, development and diversity

In the Centre for Interaction, Development and Diversity, we study psychological phenomena in relation to the contexts and situations in which they emerge.

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International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology

The ICRFP has an established international reputation for conducting a broad range of criminological and forensic psychology research.

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Quality of Life Health and Wellbeing Research Group

We explore life experiences. Our research includes empowering people with learning disabilities, exploring wellbeing, enhancing life in later years, and more. Read more. 

Research expertise
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Dog Cognition Centre

In the Dog Cognition Centre, we're exploring the behaviour and cognitive processes of man's best friend – and studying everything from human-dog communication, to facial expressions in dogs.

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Macaque Project

Researchers in the Department of Psychology are studying macaque cognition and behaviour. Find out more about this research project.

For use on the Macaque Project web page ONLY
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Research project highlights

  • Enhancing employers’ ability to provide person-centred support for autistic people

    Our team at the Autism Centre for Research on Employment (ACRE) has developed an innovative approach to autism employment support that focuses on supporting employers, not just autistic employees, including a suite of freely available Profiling Assessment (PA©) tools.

  • Transforming lie detection in security, military and forensic and settings

    Our researchers have pioneered Cognitive Credibility Assessment (CCA) - an ethical, information-gathering, lie detection procedure that capitalises on differences in the cognitive processing and strategies that truth tellers and liars use.

  • Changing policy and practice for securing evidence and gathering intelligence

    Our researchers developed the Self-Administered Interview and Timeline Technique as investigative tools to elicit comprehensive memory accounts from witnesses, victims, and informants. These tools have been adopted into policy in the UK, US and Europe, leading to improved practice and training in police forces and national security agencies.

  • The discovery and protection of a new orangutan species

    Our research on orangutan long calls has contributed to the first discovery of a new living ape species in nearly a century, the Tapanuli orangutan. With fewer than 800 individuals, it is the most endangered great ape species in the world. The team has also co-developed methods to assess the survival potential of rehabilitant orangutans with conservation and government organisations in Malaysia.

Research in the Department of Psychology

Learn about the leading research being carried out at the International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology, within the Department of Psychology at the University of Portsmouth. 

Leanne Proops: Here in the psychology department at the University of Portsmouth. We really pride ourselves in having all of our staff being research active, not only for the research that they do themselves, but also so that we can inform our teaching and really be at the cutting edge of each of our fields. We research a whole wide range of different areas. Here in the department, we have four longstanding research fields and they include our International Centre for Research into Forensic Psychology, our Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology, the Centre for Interaction, Development and Diversity and our Quality of Life, Health and Well-Being Group. 

[International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology] 

Renan Saraiva: Some of our research is on lie detection in forensic contexts, eyewitness testimony, risk assessment, and jury decision-making. The overarching goal of our research is to create safer and more just societies in terms of improving our criminal justice systems, not only in the UK but also worldwide. So achievable goals, a lot of our research focuses on, for example, creating better procedures for investigations and creating innovative procedures for risk assessment. 

[International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology – Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology]

Ed Morrison: My research generally is in the area of human evolutionary psychology. So the idea of this is seeing how evolution shapes our behaviour and in particular within the area, I look at human mate choice. As soon as we meet anyone, we'll make a kind of instant judgement sort of based on what they look like. Do I like them? Do I not like them? Are they a threat? So it has big personal importance and then big evolutionary importance as well, because finding a partner that's going to be the way that you pass your genes on to the next generation. 

Mohammed Ismeil Abdul Kader: The research is really important because in terms of understanding how we make judgements about each other in social situations, we almost are never presented with pictures except when we look at pictures online or on devices. So we constantly make judgements on moving people. So either they're walking or they're talking or they're gesturing. So it's essential to understand that element of it. So we understand the complete picture of the way that we interact with each other and the kind of decisions that we make about each other. 

[International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology – Centre for Interaction, Development and Diversity]

Beatriz Lopez: We have really a very wide set of projects, but they tend to look at how we interact with others, babies and infants, but also in adulthood. So for instance, one of the things we've done is develop profiling assessment tools for autistic people at work. And those have been because we develop them with policymakers, local authorities, with the autistic community. So they've been shown to improve job retention in autistic people, to improve quality of life. But also they have been implemented now in the autism strategy at national level. 

[International Centre for Research in Forensic Psychology – Quality of Life, Health and Wellbeing Research Group]

Miznah Al-Abbade: I'm interested in how we can better manage chronic or long-term conditions. More specifically, or more recently, I'm interested in chronic pain and actually women's health. So a recent project is looking at how we can better understand things like period pain. This research is really important because, I mean, it affects 50% of the population. It brings new insights into the project and things that we might not have considered before. It just will make it more comprehensive, really, in tackling things from different angles. 

Nills Niederstrasser: We're using the Core Pressure to induce pain and then we're seeing if the way you experience pain is related to your decision-making in a moral choice, dilemma, scenario. Further to that, we have the prevention of pain as well. So how do people recover from injuries? So if people engage in their rehab exercises. Does that lead to less pain during the rehabilitation process, say, following the surgery? Absolutely proud of it. It's always raising some eyebrows when you say you do research in pain, but when you actually start talking about it, people understand that it's worthwhile. It has societal impact and people understand that it's valuable. 

Renan Saraiva: I'm very proud to be a part of the centre and seeing those solutions and creative ideas emerging on a daily basis. 

Beatriz Lopez: All the members, we have a real passion for what we do and a real passion for doing things that really matter to the community. 

Leanne Proops: Portsmouth is a really great place, I think, to come here and conduct research both as a student and as a colleague. We pride ourselves in being really collegiate and working together as a team. We have lots of support for our researchers and we also really like to engage our students in the research process. So it's really important for us to be able to go out to different field sites, to be able to understand different cultures and really get a good understanding of what it's like to be a human across the globe. 

Our staff

Elizabeth Akehurst Portrait

Dr Lucy Akehurst

Head of Department


Department of Psychology

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

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Mark Turner Portrait

Dr Mark Turner

Principal Lecturer


Department of Psychology

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

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Leanne Clare Proops Portrait

Dr Leanne Proops

Associate Head (Research and Innovation)


Department of Psychology

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

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Dr Roger Moore

Associate Head (Students)


Department of Psychology

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

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Eszter Somogyi Portrait

Dr Eszter Somogyi

Associate Head (Global Engagement and Education Partnerships)


Department of Psychology

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

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Julie Udell Portrait

Dr Julie Udell

Associate Head (Employability and Placements)


Department of Psychology

Faculty of Science and Health

PhD Supervisor

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Take part in our research studies

We're always looking for volunteers to join our research study programmes.

If you're an adult interested in registering for a research study, please fill in the following form. 

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If you're interested in registering a child for a research study, please fill in the following form.

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Explore the Faculty of Science and Health at the University of Portsmouth, and learn more about the teaching and research activities that take place within the Faculty's different departments and schools.

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Contact us

To get in touch, please contact our Faculty office.

+44 (0)23 9284 2994